October 9, 2007 > The Kingdom
By Anuja Seith
An exciting jaunt full of action and emotion, "The Kingdom" nauseates and thrills at the same time. As the screen fills with mounting flames and deafening gunfire, hearts will thud as hands clutch and tension builds with an elite FBI team landing on Saudi soil to nab terrorists behind an attack on American oil company workers and their families. Amidst the political gimmicks, roaring bullets, bombs, and investigation that involve digging a pit of water, examining dead bodies, interviewing shattered survivors, the movie takes the audience on a breathless rollercoaster ride.
A Peter Berg film, "The Kingdom" mirrors our fear of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalists, yet provides humor in cultural nuances and situational comments exchanged between Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) and Faris Al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), a Saudi police official. This movie gives a swift historical account of events and pictures our nation's dilemma when responding to an Islamist ally. Faint-hearted Attorney General Gideon Young (Danny Huston) is the face of a government endeavoring to appease their only Middle East ally. Young's extension, Damon Schmidt (Jeremy Piven), an embassy lackey in Saudi Arabia, warns the steel-eyed hero about his conduct.
Fleury and Al-Ghazi, both men of integrity brimming with parental love and disgust for slaughter of human life, maintain the poise and style of a hero on a deadly mission. Fleury, a suave and down to earth American, acknowledges fallibility of his country charming the audience with his manipulative and determined manner as well as sleek whisper dialogues with which he convinces the Saudi prince to help his men. Al-Ghazi, whose sorrowful and tired face epitomizes the complexities of human tragedy, resembles Fleury in his humble and composed persona. His Saudi accent, posture and innocent assumptions contribute to his character and provide comic relief to the audience.
Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman) also elicits laughter; his character although essential to the movie's climax, remains underdeveloped. Janet Meyers (Jennifer Garner) with feminine sensitivity shares Fleury's intent of avenging the lost lives of FBI colleagues and contributes to sequence of scuffle and stunts.
As the movie develops, camera effects play a roll in eliciting fear and relief. Beginning with a bloody, devastated compound, wailing victims and perturbed officials, the camera captures all emotions. It often focuses on the eyes of American agents, Al-Ghazi, victims and terrorists conveying feelings of anger, revenge and disbelief.
"The Kingdom" leaves audiences with a mixed bag of experience that numbs and chills with a sense of bitter reality. It neither eulogizes Americans nor disparages Arabs; it just explores their differences, pointing to a possible peaceful co-existence.
Rated R: graphic brutal violence and language.
Run time: 110 min